Usec has selected BWXT Technologies to perform manufacturing work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for its American Centrifuge uranium enrichment program.
BWXT will manufacture components for centrifuge machines to be used in Usec's American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. This work was previously expected to be conducted by Boeing, which is currently working in Oak Ridge to make its existing facilities available for Usec's centrifuge manufacturing.
The transition, scheduled for late 2007, is not expected to affect demonstration of the lead cascade or the deployment schedule for the American Centrifuge Plant, which has been descried as very important to attracting investors.
Usec has been working with Boeing on possible transition plans since Boeing decided to move its commercial aircraft parts fabrication and assembly operations from Oak Ridge to other Boeing sites. Boeing Oak Ridge has been procuring, manufacturing and assembling machine components for Usec's American Centrifuge Demonstration Facility in Piketon since late 2004.
The American Centrifuge plant will be based on large energy-efficient centrifuge machines, developed from original designs by the US Department of Energy. Its modular construction would mean that more capacity could be added relatively cheaply.
The company has scheduled commercial operation to begin in late 2009, ramping up to 11,500 machines providing a 3.8 million separative work unit (SWU) capacity by 2012 as more cascade modules are brought online. Total costs for the new plant are estimated at $2.3 billion.
The enrichment process increases the concentration of the fissionable uranium isotope (U-235) in order to produce nuclear reactor fuel. The licence Usec holds for the eventual plant would allow it to enrich uranium up to an assay level of 10% U-235, and be expanded to a capacity of 7 million SWU.
WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper
WNA's Uranium Enrichment information paper
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